Verstappen wins Miami sprint from Leclerc

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a controlled victory ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the sprint race at the Miami Grand Prix.

Verstappen was in control after fending off an attack from Leclerc at the first corner.

Sergio Perez dropped behind RB’s Daniel Ricciardo at the first corner, after trying to pass Leclerc, but recovered to take third.

Ricciardo drove an exceptional race, fighting a rearguard battle, to hold off Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren to take fourth.

Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated by some over-aggressive defence from Haas driver Kevin Magnussen in eighth place, taking the final point on the track.

But Hamilton was penalised for speeding in the pit lane and given a drive-through penalty, which added 20 seconds to his race time and dropped him to 16th.

Magnussen earned himself three 10-second penalties for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. He was also given a five-second penalty for leaving the track without reason multiple times.

The second incident was especially annoying for the seven-time champion because it allowed RB’s Yuki Tsunoda to slip by for eighth place after Hamilton had spent 14 laps trying to pass the Haas.

Hamilton, though, managed to reclaim the place on the final lap, only to be hit with the penalty.

Magnussen told Sky Sports that his penalties were “well deserved, no doubt about it, but I had to play the game again”.

He added: “I was fighting like crazy and I had to create the gap like in Jeddah and I started using this stupid tactics which I don’t like doing, but at the end of the day I did my job as a team player and Nico [Hulkenberg] scored his points [for seventh] because I got that gap for him so Lewis and Tsunoda couldn’t catch him. Not the way I like to go racing at all but it’s what I had to do today.”

Magnussen’s driving was investigated afterwards but no further action was taken.

Hamilton was also involved in a first-corner incident that led to the retirement of McLaren’s Lando Norris that will be investigated by stewards.

Hamilton dived for the inside of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who was pincered by the Mercedes and his team-mate Lance Stroll on the outside. When the three came together, Stroll bounced into Norris, who stopped in the run-off area. Stroll was also forced into retirement and Alonso fell to the back in a incident that brought out a safety car for three laps.

Ricciardo started fourth, his best performance by far in a season that has been difficult for the Australian so far, but used all his guile and experience to hold off Sainz and Piastri.

At the front, Verstappen was imperious as always, but Leclerc hung on well for much of the race to finish 3.3 seconds behind.

Perez passed Ricciardo in the course of lap five but could do nothing about Leclerc, who was more than comfortable in holding off the second Red Bull as the action all happened behind the top three.

The drivers return to the track at 16:00 local time (21:00 BST) for qualifying for Sunday’s grand prix.

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